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5 Things I Learned During 1 Month of Full-Time Freelance Writing

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Like many Americans, I lost my job during COVID-19. I was left in the middle of a pandemic to find a new job in a time when I couldn’t even go into an office for an interview. Moreover, I was planning to apply to graduate school and possibly start in 2021. Starting a new job and working a few months before I quit didn’t make sense. 

I’ve dreamed of becoming a freelance writer for quite some time, but was I ready to start my freelance career a month ago? Hardly, but nevertheless I persisted and tried anyway. I’ve read many blogs and have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to it. 

Thus far I’ve been quite fortunate, and have started building relationships with clients. It’s so hard to believe that an entire month has already passed. I’ve been working so much, and staying busy building my business that it’s hard to fathom how time has flown by so quickly. During this time, I’ve learned so much. Here are 5 things that I’ve learned during one month of full-time freelance writing: 

1. Communicate

First and foremost, you must be extremely communicative in this industry. So much so that you might feel like you’re overcommunicating. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your clients expectations for word count, how often they would like updates, and whatever else you may be questioning. 

I’ve found that updating clients on my progress is not only a great way to stay transparent, but also an opportunity to make sure that we’re on the same page. Imagine working several days on a project, only to find out that there was a miscommunication. Your time is your money. Make sure that you’re not wasting it.

2. Highlight Your Talents

When you make the switch to freelance writing, you’ll have to deliver a pitch to almost every client. Most clients, if not all, are going to want to see your work and determine if you’ll be a good first for their project. Keeping that in mind, building a portfolio is one of the smartest things you can do. Instead of having to find old papers you’ve written each time you pitch to a potential client, you can create a specific place for them to view your work. Whether you create an entire website, or make a publicly accessible google drive, you should design a portfolio. 

In addition to a portfolio, a versatile resume is a must. Although it is important to find your niche, you might have several writing capabilities that you offer. In my case, I enjoy content writing, website microcopy, and technical writing. 

Most freelance writing gigs will also require a cover letter. Writing a specific letter for each gig you apply for can easily become overwhelming. Trust me, it gets old fast. That’s why I recommend creating a few basic cover letters that you can tweak to fit the specifics of a job.

3. Pay Attention to Detail

Although I’ve always prided myself on my attention to detail and quality work, freelance writing has added extra pressure. I now check my work more intensely than before because I’m building client relationships. I want to deliver the best work possible so that anyone I work with can feel confident in their decision to hire me for a project, and might consider referring me in the future.

4. Be Mindful of Time Constraints

One of the freelance writing gigs that I’ve been writing for has a task board that allows writers to choose their articles. Occasionally, I’ll find myself picking several projects that need to be completed within a short frame of time. Some days, I might have four articles due, and as I mentioned earlier, I want to make sure that I’m delivering quality work. With that, I’ve had to develop a schedule and plan out my work days ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute to write several articles is risky and leaves me with little time to correct my work and deliver my best work.

5. Personal Finance

Even though I knew a bit about the financial aspects of freelance writing, taking it on full-time has been a learning curve. First and foremost, freelance writers need to invoice their completed work. This helps ensure that you’re getting paid quickly, and sending the right message to your clients.

Because you’ll be working with clients that might also be managing multiple freelance writers, receiving payments might take longer than you’re used to. In my experience, it can take up to a month to receive payments.  I encourage you to review any contracts you signed because they typically lay out the average payment wait time. If you feel that your payment is taking longer than it should, don’t be shy about reaching out to a client.

I currently use Notion to track invoices, purchase orders, tasks, and basically anything you can imagine for freelance writing. Detailing every bit about the personal finance side of freelance writing is a blog post in and of itself. If you’re considering becoming a freelance writer, I encourage you to read about taxes and plan for financial mishaps.

1 Month Down, Many More to Come

Through trial and error, I’ve learned a few helpful tricks for successful freelance writing. This journey hasn’t been the easiest but it is incredibly fulfilling. Every second that I work, I work to build my dream, and I can’t think of anything better than that.

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